For the past four weeks, I have shared the process that goes into taking a single Mozart Project photo. The picture that I have been describing is the illustration to Mitridate, Act III, which is the most well documented photograph that I have taken.
If you would like to catch up, Part 1 discusses the opera, music and design for the photograph. Part 2 tells about my trip to photograph the model. Part 3 shows various shots which were needed to make a composite image. Part 4 describes how I designed and created a Prison Tower in Miniature for the photograph.
In this fifth post, I will share with you how I used all these images to make a final composite image.
Now, as a warning to my more sensitive readers, the curtain will be lifted, and all the mystery of this image will disappear once you learn how it is composited. You may die a little on the inside. So, if keeping the mystery alive is important to you, please, go no further.
Once all of my images are collected, I begin to edit them, and put them together in a digital composite. I use a program called Corel, which is like Photoshop, however where Photoshop is an all-encompassing graphics program, Corel has gradually become more focused on re-creating artistic mediums (Paints, Pencils, Brushes).
Once I have scanned the image, I give it any necessary touch-ups. These can include removing blemishes from the model, removing scratches and dust from the film, adding highlights, correcting colors, etc. Next, I cut the image out of its original background.
Now, I am ready to composite.
The first thing I do is create a digital “mock-up” of the image I want to make.
Using crude cutting and pasting methods, I create a little collage with all the elements I am considering. With Mitridate, I made one mock-up with the picture of Trevor, the model, when it was first edited, and I drew solid shapes in roughly where I wanted to place background elements.
After I had photographed the Tower and wall, I made a second mock-up. During this process, I look for a natural and attractive composition of the elements.
While I do build the background and foreground separately in the computer, I also add them together and adjust the elements after every little change I make. For example, I put Farnace in the picture, then I add the wall behind him. I adjust the wall and the character until they are in a good place. Then, I remove Farnace to edit the wall. These edits can include re-sizing and re-coloring, as well as adding grain.
I do this until all the elements match up, and I am pleased with the result. Sometimes I have to take some time away from the image, not looking at it, to return to it fresh and see where any issues may lie.
So, now the image has gone from the text of one man’s play, to the operatic setting of another man’s music; From the interpretation of one listener’s imagination, to the execution of this idea in real life. Which, hopefully, will interest somebody else in returning to the original play, and the whole process will start again, as our lives are connected by music, drama, emotional truth, friendship, adventure and life!
My ultimate goal with this project, when it is finished, is to share the joy I have experienced through the music of Mozart!
Again, here is the song which my photograph illustrates, to complete my post “Mitridate – Illustrating an Opera”. Thanks for reading!